G2Guide’s Segun Osu Explains the Basics of Hiring Remote Development Teams, from Finding the Best Talent to Cost

Hiring remote developers and teams is a smart way to attract top-notch, diverse talent for less than you’d pay for on-site hires. Labs mentor Segun Osu, director at G2G guide, held a Labs session all about remote teams—the benefits of hiring them, how to manage them, and what to consider before you make remote hires.

The rise of remote dev teams

For technical talent in particular, “remote appears to be the new normal,” Osu says. People have always worked remotely, whether their company officially supported it or not, but the difference is that “now a lot of companies are doing it by design,” Osu says. “Companies like Zapier, Salesforce, Trello, InVision, GitHub and more have set up unites that are remote by design, especially their software development units, because software developers by their very nature and the type of work they do require seclusion and quiet to get the best results. They want to work remotely and on their own terms. They don’t want to be confined to a particular office.”

When hiring remotely, focus on team fit over individual allstars

“The team is everything. There are many studies that show that high performing teams can be hundreds of times more effective than average teams. So at G2Guide, we focus on teams and not individual developers for that reason,” Osu says.

And that often means asking hires to bring their own teams with them when they join. “The idea of BYOT, or Bring Your Own Team, is a real thing,” Osu says. “Stripe, for example, is looking for developers who come with their own team. That’s why teams are so much more powerful than individuals.”

There’s also the “concept of the acqui-hire, where an organization actually buys another company primarily for the team. Google does it and so does Facebook. A lot of organizations are actively buying other companies primarily for the team,” Osu says. “Teams are powerful.” So when you’re assembling your remote team, either hire as a unit or focus on how they’ll work together rather than seeking a team made up of people who may be better on their own.

Where to find great remote developers

There’s talent all over the world, but there are resources out there to help you identify specific countries to recruit in. “If we look at some of the tests that organizations like HackerRank, a highly respected recruitment organization for software developers, have made people take, what you’ll find is that some of the most highly ranked software developers are actually in Russia and China,” Osu says. “They’re incredibly effective at algorithms and mathematical problem-solving. They’re at the top of the class.”

Easter Europe and Asia produce talented software developers, keen to work with new tech stacks. “The willingness to learn new tech stacks tend to be higher in countries where the average age is lower,” Osu says. “We're using newer tech stacks to improve productivity, reduce development time and costs. The newer languages are what the younger generation is using. More mature software developers are sometimes less enthusiastic about newer tech stacks.”

You can also get hyper-local when you target areas for recruitment. For example, “There are some locations where you’ve got excellent universities that just churn out graduates who are really good at one or two things,” Osu says. “Take mobile apps. We’ve experienced that there are certain towns and jurisdictions where we can forget about the country rankings entirely and just focus on the fact that there’s a great university that seems to produce a particular type of high-performing graduate who’s great for building mobile apps.”

Keep in mind how the global population is going to grow and shift in the years to come, too. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see the number of software developers worldwide grow from something like 23 million to 28 million,” Osu says. “And the bulk of that growth is going to come from places like Latin America and Asia.”

How much they cost

“Remote developers cost a lot, especially if you’re looking in the U.S and in Europe,” Osu says. “The younger the popular, the lower the cost per hour.” (Check out the chart, below, that Osu shared during his session for more detailed cost ranges.)

While remote workers are generally less expensive than on-site hires, “you have to be realistic,” Osu says. “You have to pay people a fair wage. It doesn’t matter where they’re located— they’ve still got lives to live and families to support. The fact that the average wage in their country may be one-tenth of what it might be in the U.S. or the UK doesn’t mean the expected wage for a software developer is one-tenth. The best approach is to base your offer on reliable benchmarks and aim to create a long term relationship.”

Focus on potential and flexibility over experience

When you’re hiring developers, especially remote teams, “you’re not necessarily looking for people with 10 years experience,” Osu says. “You’re looking for people who are willing to learn new languages, new methodologies. Age and experience are not the most important barometers of success. It’s flexibility and agility, and youth is on everyone’s side here.”

What to remember when you’re hiring remotely

The checklist of things to look at when you’re hiring remotely is (of course) a bit different than a normal on-site hire checklist. “You need to look at location first, then look at the team,” Osu says. “You have to consider things like time zones, language, stability within the political or economic environment you’re trying to locate your team in. And then the team itself. How scalable is the team? How mature are they? What’s their level of agile maturity? That’s really important.” (See Osu’s full checklist below.)

How to attract the best remote developers

When you’re trying to get the best remote technical talent to join your company, remember that “the balance of power has shifted away from the employer and towards the team,” Osu says. “As the employer, you need to build up your reputation if you’re going to have a chance of engaging the right team. You need a strong brand. If you’re a small company, it’s your reputation that will bring the talent to you.”

“There are all sorts of channels out there where you can build up your reputation,” Osu says. “And you can use a number of channels to recruit remote teams where you, as a small company, will be highly ranked. And by using a bunch of different channels, you’re widening the net and improving your ability to recruit the great teams that you need. Get personal about it, too. We do that at G2Guide—we use acquaintances to recruit and we encourage team members to bring in their own teams.”

“We also network furiously,” Osu says. “But more importantly, if you’re using the usual channels, you have to filter, filter, filter because you typically get very poor quality through those traditional channels. So you also have to persevere when it comes to some of the newer channels like LinkedIn, Quora, and Twitter. It’s possible to find really good people there if you work really hard to find them.”

Consider less recruitment-focused channels, too. “Think about AngelList and Crunchbase—places where the people you want to hire are hanging out,” says Osu. “If your startup is listed on AngelList, put a little note in there to say that you’re looking for people. The platform may not be made for that, but typically, really good engineers and developers to go places like AngelList and look. They want to know about the new startups on the block.”

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